Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To Be Like Jesus is to Be a Servant!

John 13:4-5, 14 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. (5) After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

(14) If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.

The word ‘servant’ has a very negative connotation in our society. It brings to mind people being subjected to practically inhumane treatment, of which no one would ever CHOOSE. However, the definition of the word is much more benign. A servant, by definition, is simply one who serves.

Jesus, not only commands us to serve, he sets the ultimate example for us. Not only in dying on the cross for our sins, but in the act found in our text today. To best understand this passage, we must better understand the context.

Walking was the primary mode of transportation for the common man during that day. Shoes were more like our sandals today, so feet got extremely dirty and sweaty while walking. Furthermore, many believe that dining was done in more of a lounging position so the feet of others could be very close to your face and plate. For that reason, washing feet prior to eating was customary.

If you could afford a servant, the servant would do the foot washing of guests. If no servant, then the low man on the totem pole was the one stuck with this awful job. In the case of Jesus coming together with his apostles to eat Jesus’ last passover meal, there would not have been a natural hierarchy.... with one obvious exception: Jesus was the king of Kings, Lord of Lords and the son of God, so he clearly was on top of the heap.

Instead of Jesus asking the others who was going to do the nasty job and having a dispute ensue to prove between all of the apostles that “I am too good to do that”, Jesus quietly put on an apron and quietly began the task.

After finishing the chore, he simply and succinctly states, “I have washed your feet, now you ought to wash one another’s feet” By saying this, Jesus is not stating a policy or mission of sanitary conditions for feet, but rather we should never let our pride get in the way of serving others.

Remember that Jesus said that we should love one other. But love in the Bible was never isolated to being a warm and fuzzy feeling, but rather activity. We are told that “God SO LOVED the world that he..... GAVE! Action!

If we are going to be like our savior, we must look out to help others in every way possible.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

We are seen for who we are and to whom we represent not by what we say necessarily but by our GOOD WORKS!

Look out today and try to help someone out. Pay for the groceries of the elderly lady behind you in line. Carry the heavy packages for the young mom with a couple of kids in tow. Opportunities exist everywhere .... we just have to open our eyes to them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

There is a Standard!

John 12:47-49 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. (48) He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (49) For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

What does the Bible say?

Imagine that one day you are pulled over by the police while driving your car. The police officer walks up to your window and inquires, “Why were you driving on the wrong side of the road?” Your response? “Well”, you said, “I was watching a movie set in England and they all drove on that side of the road, and it just SEEMED better?’

What are your chances of the police officer, shrugging his shoulders and saying “ well you are right, that is the law in England...have a nice day”?

IMPOSSIBLE! Never would that happen! There is a better chance that he would have a psych evaluation done on you before he would just let you go. So why would that excuse not work? Because we are judged in this country, state, or municipality by their appropriate laws. Trying to say that a law somewhere else permits a particular action has NO value here.

In our text today, we have Jesus telling us about the Standard for the Judgment. Jesus specifically and unambiguously says that HIS WORDS will judge us in the last days. HIS WORDS. God’s Will. The Bible will be the Standard and basis for what is right, what is wrong, what is sin and what is righteous.

My illustration this morning was borderline ridiculous. Nobody in their right mind would EVER do such a thing. However, it is not ridiculous because I assure you, countless people will try to defend themselves on that Day of Judgment based upon some other standard. I can hear it now...”But my preacher said”.....”But the church that I went to said it was OK”.....”But the religious council approved that”...and on and on and on.

It will not matter one wit what ANYBODY thinks, feels or says. We will be judged by the Word of God!

Here is the Crux of the problem. The world’s religious...yes even the world’s “christian” religious groups are removing themselves from what the Bible says at an all time pace. Almost every year I will hear on the news that some religious group will say that this or that sin is no longer condemned by that particular religious group, therefore making it acceptable for their followers to participate in. The one primary sin that keeps coming up is fornication. I cannot remember how many organizations have declared that fornication is no longer a sin. The problem is that Bible does!

1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

It does not matter how many religious groups say it is OK, fornication is still a sin. And all those that go to the day of Judgment without having this or any other sin forgiven, will be lost.

But you cannot be forgiven if there is no repentance.

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Matthew 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

And there will be no repentance of any sin that you are convinced is okay. Therefore we must be VERY careful not to listen to what you want to hear religiously, but hear the Bible for what it says and to make the proper adjustments in your life to repent and to be forgiven.

You simply cannot stand before God and say...”My church said it was OK”! It is simply the wrong Standard!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Oh to Be Like Jesus!

John 12:24-25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (25) He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

Several years ago, there was a clever fad that spread across this country. Young and old people everywhere were wearing bracelets with the inscription: WWJD. These simple letters stood for “What Would Jesus Do”. While that is a very useful memory devise for thinking about temptation prior to the act, I think there is a slightly better question: What Did Jesus Do?

1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

While speculating what Jesus MIGHT do can be useful, following what he DID DO is essential! In our text today, Jesus eludes to his death on the cross to teach us how that we might follow in his steps. Jesus, of course, is best known for his death on the cross. He literally died in an agonizing an painful fashion so that we might have the hope of eternal life.

That is what he did. We MUST follow in his steps!

Jesus teaches us that in order for a seed to become more than an individual, self contained unit, it must first die. Once it does, it can produce much fruit. If you read that passage alone, you might conclude that he is speaking of himself here. But the verse following clearly indicates that the death that he is speaking of is OURS!

In verse 25 he teaches us that we must be willing to lose or die to this life. In all honesty, we really do not HAVE to. However, losing this life or dying to our old self is the ONLY way that we gain the spiritual, eternal life to come. So what if we choose not to die and forfeit this life? We will lose our life to come!

Jesus is telling us that we cannot have our cake and eat it too. We will either have to make sacrifices in this life to gain the next, or sacrifice our eternal life to keep doing what we are currently doing.

Is this life so great, so incredible that you are willing to sacrifice eternity with our Savior and with our Creator? No matter how much we might like this life, it is full of heartache and disappointments. One of the most awesome promises of the life to come is that there will be no pain, no suffering and no tears.

That is worth dying for!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The SECRET to Non-Belief!

John 11:47-48 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. (48) If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

There are going to be two categories of people that will be lost and ultimately sent to eternal punishment on that fateful day.

2 Thessalonians 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

The first category are those that do not know God. The second are those that may have a knowledge, they may even believe in the existence of God, but have simply chosen to not be his followers in the manner that he requires...thus refusing to obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So why is it that so many are unwilling to be followers of Jesus? Let’s answer that in a moment.

In our text today, we have a host of Jewish Leaders that are looking to put Jesus to death. The latest surge of hatred is due because of miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. They know that with Jesus doing this kind of miracle, his fame and reputation will spread like a wildfire. In verse 47 they ask of themselves “ What do we do? Then in verse 48 they give us the secret for why so many fail to follow Jesus.

John 11:47-48 ....and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

They wanted to stop Jesus for the same reason they refused to become followers and the reason why so many people refuse to follow Jesus...Because they will have to give up the life that they love. As Jewish Leaders, they were comfortable with their station in life. They had power, influence and even financial advantages and they were not willing to give it all up. For them to be followers, they would have to be willing to deny themselves (Matt. 16:24). To allow Jesus to continue teaching, their lifestyles would be taken away, so they felt their only choice was to kill him.

Their motives are exactly the same for folks not being believers or followers of Jesus today. They simply are not willing to give up the lives to which they have grown accustomed. What about you? To be a TRUE follower of Jesus, it is not good enough to make the claim. You must actually live the life and follow the commandments of Jesus.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The MAN Named Jesus!

John 11:30-36 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. (31) The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. (32) Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. (33) When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, (34) And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. (35) Jesus wept. (36) Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

There is much talk about Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus as God and Jesus as our Savior, but there is not nearly as much discussion of Jesus as a mere man. In our text today, we see one of the most powerful evidences that Jesus truly was a human with all of our emotions and feelings.

In verse 5 we find that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Even though Jesus was dedicated to saving the lost and teaching the masses about repentance and turning towards God, we find that he had time to develop close friends that he truly loved. This kind of friendship was not just a casual acquaintance, but rather a deep mutual relationship. So much so that when Lazarus got sick they called for Jesus to come and be with them.

But the most powerful evidence of his humanity is found in verse 35, the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. This verse is quite intriguing, largely because of why that he wept. I do not think that he wept as a result of the death of Lazarus because he came to the funeral in order to raise him from the dead.

So if Jesus didn’t weep because of the death of Lazarus, why did he weep?

John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled

I believe Jesus wept because he had sympathy and compassion for Mary and Martha. They were clearly distraught because of the loss of their brother and Jesus was moved by their pain. Jesus was not so much God that he could not feel the suffering of others. That is what makes our savior so special, he truly knows what it is like to be us.

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus could have come to this earth and lived as the greatest king in the history of the world, but instead he was a common man that experienced life just as we do. He had sadness and heartaches and disappointments and frustrations the same as us. And when we approach him on Judgment day, our judge will have this same kind of compassion and understanding for us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do You REALLY Want to Know?

John 10:24-31 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. (25) Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. (26) But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. (27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (30) I and my Father are one. (31) Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

Knowledge is a curious thing. I would say, that if you asked 100 people if they wanted to gain additional knowledge, 100 people would say... ”Absolutely”. Come on...who would not want to be better educated, smarter or wiser? Honestly, many people of those 100.

Everybody has the opportunity to gain additional knowledge everyday. Whether it is reading a book, taking a class or simply gaining knowledge from a mentor, additional knowledge is at our finger tips. So again, how many people truly take advantage of that knowledge? I would say VERY few.

So if all of us, at least on the surface, want additional knowledge, why do so few act upon it? That is a discussion much to large for this venue. However, we can speculate about a few. Some may not have time (ie. do not CHOOSE to make time for it). Some may conclude that what they are doing or have scheduled in a day is more important than gaining additional knowledge.

Furthermore, some may fear additional knowledge. If one has a particular way of thinking established, additional knowledge may upset that apple cart and cause great stress.

That is what is happening in our text today. Some Jews approach Jesus and say...and I paraphrasing of course... “Quit beating around the bush and tell us PLAINLY if you are the Messiah.” They are wanting to gain additional knowledge and quite frankly about the most important subject known to man...right?.

Are they REALLY? These Jews are like the 100 that say they want additional knowledge but don’t in fact.

Jesus response to them is very telling. He says that you have the information. I have told you many times before. I have lots of followers or sheep that are currently following me because they had enough information to know.

These people have seen Jesus’ miracles and have heard him speak countless times because they were trying to catch him in a mistake. They probably had more information than the average follower. But all of the information in the world would not change their mind from what they WANTED TO BELIEVE!

How many of us fall into this trap? How many of us ACT like we want to learn all we can about Jesus, what he teaches, and what he wants from us, but in the long run, we dismiss it just like they did. Too often, people that profess they follow Jesus have this sam mind set. They hear what he teaches in the Bible, then dismiss it because it does not fit with what they want to believe.

To truly follow Jesus, we Must Deny ourselves of what we want and submit to the will of God. Jesus did not say it would be easy, but he did inform us it would be worth it.

Do You REALLY Want to Know what Jesus says?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beware of Imitators!

John 10:1-14 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (2) But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. (3) To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. (4) And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. (5) And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. (6) This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. (7) Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. (8) All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. (9) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (10) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (11) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (12) But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (13) The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. (14) I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

One of the disappointments of being a consumer is getting tricked by an imitation. Of course some imitations are quite acceptable. For instance, the average person will not be able to tell the difference between name brand green beans verses a generic green beans. However, there are some things for which there is no substitutes. An example of this is counterfeit movies. Although I have never seen one, I understand that someone will go into a movie theater on the evening that a movie debuts and records the new movie with a typical ammeter recording devise. The next day they will begin selling that movie on the street as if it was released by the studio. Certainly that imitation is unacceptable as a substitute and if you fall for it, you will be hugely disappointed.

In our text today, Jesus describes himself as the “Good Shepherd”. He is a GOOD shepherd, instead of just another ordinary shepherd, because his sheep knows his voice and he knows them.

However, Jesus warns us to beware of imitators. He says there will be others that will pretend to be shepherds, but they are nothing more than thieves and robbers. How is it that they can be thieves? Because if we fall for the imitators instead of following Jesus, we will have the opportunity of REAL salvation stolen from us.

I know the average person is thinking...”what’s the big deal?...Aren’t all religions that profess Christ the same anyway?” The answer is a resounding NO! Notice a few verses that warn of the eternal danger of false teaching.

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Don’t be deceived by an imitation! Follow after the Good Shepherd!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Do You Really Hear?

John 9:24-28 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. (25) He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. (26) Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? (27) He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? (28) Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.

In the opening verses of John chapter 9, we find Jesus healing a man that was blind from birth. Unfortunately for Jesus, he committed this act on the Sabbath. Immediately after the healing took place, the religious leaders began to interrogate both the young man and his parents about Jesus. They were so appalled that Jesus would perform this miraculous work on the Sabbath that they were searching for some means to convict him.

In verse 24 they begin questioning the young, healed man once again. In fact, they ask him the same questions as they did before. Notice the young man’s response to the second round of questioning in verse 27.

John 9:27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

Clearly the young man is getting annoyed at the narrowly focused mission of these Pharisees. He has clearly told them what happened, but they are not listening because it is not what they want to hear! In fact, he asks, are you going to listen this time? If I tell you this time, will you also become his disciple?

This young man points out a characteristic about us that we all need to examine. We often search, research or inquire into a subject with the ONLY motive of validating our current position! The pharisees did not want to inquire about Jesus to learn about him. They want to hear what they wanted to hear.

How many of us examine the word of God with the same motive? How often do we look to the Bible to validate a particular viewpoint rather than to truly glean the truths contained therein. Let us all strip away all of our preconceived ideas and filters that prevent us from seeing the truth that God has revealed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sin NO More!

John 8:3-11 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, (4) They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. (5) Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? (6) This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. (7) So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (8) And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. (9) And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (10) When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? (11) She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

The passage that we will examine today is one of the most abused passages in all the Bible. Like other passages that are misrepresented, this one too is often distorted so that one can draw a conclusion to fit their preconceived ideology.

What many WANT this passage to mean is that Jesus doesn’t care about sin. They focus all of their attention upon the FIRST part of verse 11 where Jesus tells her “Neither do I condemn you”. They concluded that, if Jesus refuses to condemn this adulterous woman, then he will also be obligated to overlook and maybe even allow sin in our lives; ultimately giving us the green light to live our lives ANY way we choose.

There are three substantive problems with this conclusion. First it ignores the context of the passage. Second, it purposely ignores the other statement that Jesus makes to her, and third it ignores the rest of the Bible’s teaching about repentance from sin.

So, what is this passage all about then?

Jesus once again is dealing with the hypocrisy of the Jewish leadership. They bring this woman, caught in sin, to Jesus for the purpose of trapping him. The text says that they caught this woman in the very act of adultery and so they conclude that she should be stoned according to the Law of Moses. So what’s the problem?

Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

It is not that Jesus is against following the law, but rather he believes in TRUE justice. So where was the man? Why wasn’t the man caught with the woman being accused and threatened with stoning too? The law clearly states that both that are guilty must be stoned. Instead the Jews chose to break the law and only stone the woman. For that reason, Jesus was not willing to be party with such an injustice.

So is Jesus really turning a blind eye to this woman’s sin? Absolutely not. Immediately after telling her that he is not willing to put her to death, he tells her to “SIN NO MORE!” He is not condoning her sin. He is encouraging her to reform her life as he will do with all mankind by dying on the cross for our sins.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Are You Looking for More?

John 7:31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?

Most of us know, that during the time Jesus ministered and preached on this earth, that he raised the ire of his contemporary religious leaders. So much so that the next verse tells us that the Jews sought to take him.

During the feast of tabernacles, Jesus went into the temple to teach and many marveled because he did not have any formal education. He then gets into a discussion with those in the temple. For some, he made more angry and others believed him to be who he claimed to be.

But our discussion is on the last part of the verse. For those that believed on Jesus in the temple, they asked this rhetorical question:

....When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?

Basically they were asking, if Jesus is not the Christ, and you expect “another Christ” to come from God, what more...What better could possibly be done by the “real Christ” that Jesus isn’t doing? In other words, Jesus IS the Christ because, you can’t get better than him!

I think they are right! So why do more people not become followers of Jesus? What do you think is going to be better? The world? Sin? Do you think that there is anything in this world that is going to surpass forgiveness of sins? A relationship with the Creator? The hope of eternal life?

A better question yet? For those that have become christians in the past, and are not living up to the commitment that you previously made...Are you looking for something better? Really? You know that Jesus is the Son of God. You know the power that comes with God on your side! You know the power of prayer! You know the benefits of being a child of God! And you are risking that for what?

Nothing that the world has to offer can possibly be better than the blessings of God. In short...if Jesus cannot satisfy your needs in this life...You will NEVER find satisfaction or happiness!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who Authorized What You Teach?

John 7:14-16 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. (15) And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? (16) Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

So often, Jesus makes such simple, basic statements, that when contemplated, have real profound meanings. Such is our study today.

First, let’s set the stage. As one drives down the road these days, it is quite common to see messages on the backs of tractor-trailers that say: “Attend the church of your choice.” The message implies that of all of the varieties of religious groups in the world, you can select the one that best fits your wishes and desires. That leads us to the next obvious question: Why is there so many choices? Did God leave a pattern to structure His church with thousands of options and varieties. If you listen to Jesus he did not indicate so....

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (14) Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

So how then, are there so many varieties and versions of the ONE religion that Jesus established? Because, for every individual denomination, they have their own doctrine. The doctrine that they teach is what individualizes them from all the rest.

But wait! Let’s look at what Jesus said in our text today. Jesus was teaching in the temple and the Jews were amazed that he taught so well having no formal education. Here is Jesus simple and basic answer. His doctrine (that which he taught) was not his own, but rather he taught what God told him to. So if Jesus was not able to teach any thing he wanted...What do we think we can?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

With Jesus...It’s NOT the Thought that Counts!

John 6:25-27 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? (26) Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. (27) Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

If this Christmas is like most, many of us will receive gifts that we did not ask for and do not want. However, we often receive them with joy because it is “the thought that counts”. We use this philosophical outlook in many walks of life...including religion.

The religious world typically promotes the concept that as long as you claim to follow Jesus, then that is ALL that really matters. It does not matter HOW you follow Jesus nor does it matter WHY you follow Jesus. It seems that the religious world views God as a desolate grandfather that is so desperate to get attention, he’ll take anything.

In our text today, Jesus says other wise. In the opening verses of this chapter, we find Jesus miraculously feeding a huge crowd of people. The next day they seek him again and ultimately find him (verse 26). But does Jesus praise them for seeking him? Is he thankful that they put in an attempt regardless of the reason? NO he doesn’t. In fact, he chastises them. He said that you sought me for the wrong reason. You did it for selfish, worldly wanted another free meal.

In verse 27 Jesus tells us the kind of disciples that he wants. Jesus says that we should not focus on the “meat” of this world, but we should focus on spiritual “meat”.

Christianity should not be a peripheral item in our lives. It must be who we are and the priority of our lives!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Do We Think We Are Better Than Jesus?

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

In the opening verses of the book of John, we learn some very important truths about Jesus:

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

1. Jesus is Eternal

2. Jesus is Deity

3. Jesus was Integral in all of creation

These truths are the foundation for our discussion today. Even though Jesus is God. Even though Jesus is Eternal. Even though Jesus was integral in all of creation, Jesus says...Of himself, he could do NOTHING! Of all the people that have ever existed in this world, Jesus of all people had the right and the power to come to this earth and do as HE chose. But he didn’t! He only did the will of his father. Jesus could have said to God “You know what, I am the one doing all of the sacrificing here. I am the one that gave up heaven to come down here. I am the one with the boots on the ground. Because of that, I am going to make the calls here” But he didn’t. He only did the will of his father.

So what about us? What does it say about us that we think we ought to, or have the right to, or just choose to Do as we wish regardless of God’s will?

That is the height of ARROGANCE! If Jesus, being God, saw it necessary to submit to the will of the Father then we MUST too! If not, We must think we are better than Jesus!

We must worship as God desires! We must think as God desires! We must behave as God desires! We must restrict our lifestyles as God desires without justification, rationalization or in any way trying to defend what we want.

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Genuine Miracle!

John 5:1-9 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (2) Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. (3) In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. (4) For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. (5) And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? (7) The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. (8) Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. (9) And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

Not long ago, I was flipping through the many TV channels choices and stopped on one that caught my eye. It was a “televangelist” that always humors me. He was performing a so-called “miracle service. One person came on stage that I will remember the rest of my life. It was told that this woman was deaf and mute from birth and that they had healed her off-stage but they brought her on stage to “glorify God”. While on stage the televangelist wanted to demonstrate the evidence of this “miracle” so he asked this newly “healed” person to say “B-A-B-Y”. On three separate tries, the lady tried her best to make the proper sounds, but was never able to form the word in a recognizable manner. After the third attempt, the preacher quickly ushered her offstage and then offered this excuse. “Well, she was really healed....but now she will have to learn to talk” Really?

That was NOT a miracle according to the Bible!

In our text today we have a real miracle recorded. Jesus found a man that had been crippled for 38 years. He had been left at a pool where it was believed that if one was able to get into the pool at the right time, they would be healed. This man was desperate and had no hope. Jesus, realizing the deteriorated condition of this man, decides to heal him. Notice though in verse 8, there is no elaborate stage show. There is no hocus pocus. There is no drama, no head pounding, no selling of tickets. Jesus simply speaks a basic sentence:

John 5:8 ...Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

In verse 9, we have the results. IMMEDIATELY, the man was made whole and from that moment he was able to walk. No physical therapy required. No building up of muscles, No learning to walk. God made it happen with the spoken word.

There are so many people that throw around the term “miracle” to describe less than miraculous events. The one that comes to mind is childbirth. While it is an event that is awe inspiring, it is NO miracle. It happens thousands of times a day. So what is a miracle? Miracles that are described in the bible follow this definition

1. TRUE Miracles Break or Suspend the laws of nature!

Miracles are much much more that hard to explain, they literally are IMPOSSIBLE with out the intervention of God.

2. TRUE Miracles are Instantaneous

Miracles are not like medicine that have to get into one’s system. Nor does it take time to work, but rather, when God acts his will is DONE!

3. TRUE Miracles are Thorough

Again, a true miracle does not wear off nor need additional installments to be effective. Nor does it need assistance from other sources like the medical community.

4. TRUE Miracles are Provable

Too many times folks on TV tell us they have performed a miracle but we have to take their word for it. In the Bible, there are generally always lots of witness that both see the miraculous event, and can testify to knowledge that the person was really sick to start with.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Jesus Diet!

John 4:31-34 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. (32) But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. (33) Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? (34) Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

In our culture, food is used for many things besides just the gaining of sustenance for our bodies. Eating is done for reasons like entertainment, relief of boredom, fellowshipping with others and the list can go on and on. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we are motivated an focused on food a great deal. Case in point, In just about a week, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. By far, with this holiday, comes the most anticipated, the most planned, and the most elaborate meal most of us will eat all year. But notice Jesus’ attitude about food.

While Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman, his disciples were off somewhere else and in verse 31 they meet back up with him. They had apparently been apart for some time and when they were reunited, the disciples were concerned that Jesus had not properly eaten. So like caring friends, they urged him to eat. Notice now Jesus’ response in verse 32.

John 4:32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

John 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

The disciples were not suggesting a meaningless dinner party or superfluous snacks to eat during a ball game. They were concerned about him needing to eat for his health. And yet Jesus essentially is saying his work...his mission...pleasing his father is his food. That is what satisfies him. That is what sustains him.

I am not suggesting that we eat fewer meals to be like Jesus. However, do we have our priorities where they should be? Is doing our father’s will rank up there in our priority list with the essentials of life like food, water and oxygen? Will we spend more time fixing,,,or even eating next week’s Thanksgiving meal than we do focused on doing the work of our father? May we each someday be able to say that “My meat is to do the will that sent me...”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If They Only Knew!

John 4:10-15 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (11) The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? (12) Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? (13) Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: (14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (15) The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

We continue looking at the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4. In the context of previous verses, Jesus was passing through the region of Samaria and stop to rest at a well. While there, a Samaritan woman comes by to draw waters so Jesus asked her for a drink of water. She was perplexed at the question because social prejudices frowned upon the two interacting.

Jesus’ response is very interesting. He tells her, (and I am paraphrasing) If you only knew who I am, you would ask for me to give you Living Water.

So what is this Living Water of which he speaks? He tells us in verse 14. Unlike ordinary or physical water in which one has to continually partake of it in order for it to be beneficial, The Living water is eternal. In other words, we get thirsty several times a day and so we have to drink several times a day to refresh ourselves. Water is not just needed to quench thirst, our bodies NEED it to sustain life. In fact, it may be even more vital than food. If we do not get the proper amount of water we will die.

Therefore, Jesus is using that principle to teach that he is offering us LIFE. But it is not just an extension of this life....but rather Eternal Spiritual life!

Why then do so few people take advantage of such an offer? Who wouldn’t want to live spiritually forever rather than die in eternal punishment? The same reason the Samaritan didn’t ask Jesus for the Living Water. Jesus says...If they only knew! If they only knew the gift of God and if they only knew who Jesus was. That may seem ridiculous since most of the world has heard of Jesus. Most of the world may have heard of Jesus, but most are not willing to do what it takes to drink the water that he offers. Jesus says that you must Follow HIm (Matt 16:24). Following is much more than just understanding his existence. It requires making sacrifices like living the manner of life that he requires of us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jesus Disapproves of Discrimination!

John 4:5-9 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. (6) Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. (7) There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (8) (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) (9) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

As great as this country is, one of the embarrassing and shameful parts of our history is our past approval of slavery. Because of that black-eye in our history, the people of this nation continues to struggle with relations between races. Folks on both sides of this racial divide continue to perpetuate hatred just because of the color of one’s skin.

In a very similar struggle, the Jews during the time of Jesus, had a similar attitude towards the Samaritans. Many Jews looked at the Samaritans with hatred and disdain. So much so that they would often travel, at much greater distances, around the Samaritan region, so they could avoid them altogether.

With that background understood, In our text Jesus is making one of those journeys, but instead of traveling around the region, he walks through it as if there is no problem. During his trip, he gets tired and decides to sit down at a public well to rest and get a drink. While he was resting, a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. While there, Jesus asks this woman to draw him some water and it inspired the woman to ask this question in verse 9.

John 4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Jesus’ behavior was so unexpected, so out of the norm, so against society, that the woman could not help herself from asking...Why are you talking to me? Jesus’ answer was a much deeper, more significant, more eternal...dealing with him being the savior, but his actions answers it loud and clear!

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

James 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

Jesus did not care that she was a Samaritan! He was not going to allow society’s ignorance or hatred to influence him. Instead, he acts as his and God’s nature dictates. God does not judge mankind because of the color of skin or any other physical characteristics...and Neither can we! If we want to be like our savior...If we want to be like God, we must learn to love everyone and judge them by their actions and NOT by their looks.